Responding the ‘unprecedented pressures’ the COVID-19 pandemic has placed on farmers and food suppliers throughout the supply chain, Soil Association Certification has announced it is freezing its annual fee increases in light of the ‘predicted uncertainty ahead’.
The move to freeze its planned annual fee increases for all organic licensees until the end of September 2020 comes as growers and suppliers ‘work hard to maintain food production and distribution during this time of global crisis’.
The ‘rapidly changing circumstances’ will be further reviewed in September, says the certifier.
The annual increase, which had previous been communicated to licensees, was due to come into effect on 1 April.
New challenges face many of the communities we serve at the Soil Association and we are finding new ways to work with and support them
Clare McDermott, business development director at Soil Association Certification, comments: “In these extraordinary and unsettling times it’s vital that we come together to support all our licensees, especially our farmers and food suppliers. Soil Association Certification is, and always has been, committed to supporting the organic movement. We hope this price freeze will allow our certified growers, producers and processors to continue the fantastic work they’ve been doing to secure a resilient and sustainable food system – for now and for the future.
“The global pandemic has already affected the lives of everyone in some way and its impacts will continue for some time. Our licensees are crucial at this time and, despite increasingly challenging circumstances, we’re so grateful for the hard work they are putting in to produce and distribute our food.”
In a media release, temporary changes to Soil Association Certification’s own operational and procedural practices were briefly outlined; the organization has currently suspended physical inspections and is ‘reviewing the option of remote/desk-based inspections’ while staff work from home.
Our world is taking a deep breath, let’s take one with it
In a statement online, the SA says: “Our worldwide media is gripped by coronavirus and it is right that there is deep concern and mass planning for worst-case scenarios. New challenges face many of the communities we serve at the Soil Association and we are finding new ways to work with and support them. We’ve been struck by how boldly the UK and wider world has moved to respond to this imminent threat. There could be much to learn from all this, when we have the bandwidth to do so. This is a moment to come together for the common good. We are stronger when we work together on the biggest challenges we face.
Highlighting an important opportunity ahead for organic, the SA continues: “The time will come when the UK seeks to repair and rebuild itself. The UK will bounce back – but do we want to bounce back to how things used to be? Or will we choose to invest in a more resilient and sustainable food system which is both less exposed to short term shocks and better able to restore a safe climate, abundant nature and good nutrition?
For now, all global citizens must come together to support each other. Our world is taking a deep breath, let’s take one with it.”
More on the Soil Association’s response to the coronavirus outbreak can be found at https://www.soilassociation.org/responding-to-coronavirus/.